Monday, September 17, 2012

Sunday September 23 Service

Here's a preview of next Sunday's service. The theme is "Be Servants of All." Roger Dodson will be conducting the service and Joe Hodgins will be giving the sermon. The scripture for our theme is Mark 9:30–37 (which is Mark 9:27–35 in the Inspired Version of the Bible). Click here for additional readings and information on our theme. 

Unfortunately, I'm in the states and won't be back to Toronto for a little while.  Right now I'm at international church headquarters in Independence, Missouri — I'm writing this post from the Temple.  I'm in the archives doing research on the history of the church in Canada.  I've found some great information, which I'll share in future blog posts.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

History of the Toronto Congregation (Part 1)

John Taylor, the first pastor of the Toronto
Congregation, joined Brigham Young's faction
of the church in 1844 and became president of
the LDS Church in Utah in 1880. 
The Toronto Congregation was first organized in 1836, just six years after the church itself.  Heber C. Kimball, one of the original apostles, had predicted that Parley P. Pratt (another of the apostles) would go to Upper Canada, even to the city of Toronto, the capital where he would find a people prepared for the gospel.[1]

On April 6, 1836, Pratt and five companions left Kirtland, Ohio (then the headquarters of the church), and made their way to Toronto.  There they met John and Leonora Taylor who were part of a small group of religious seekers dissenting from the Methodist church.  After a good deal of preaching and discussions, the Taylors and many members of their group were baptized into our church.  They formed the nucleus of the first Toronto Congregation and when Pratt and the other missionaries returned to the United States, John Taylor was left in charge as the congregations first pastor.

Two years later the Taylors moved to Far West, Missouri, which had become the new headquarters of the church. Several apostles left the church in the schisms of 1837–38 and one was killed during the 1838 Missouri Mormon War. John Taylor was among those called to fill vacancies in the Council of Apostles.  During the succession crisis following the assassination of church president Joseph Smith Jr. in 1844, both Pratt and Taylor sided with fellow apostle Brigham Young. They followed him to Utah, where Taylor eventually became Young's successor as the head of the LDS Church in Utah.

Like much of the church in the Midwestern United States, the congregation in Toronto became disorganized and ceased to meet in the 1840s and 50s.  A new headquarters organization was formed in 1860 at a conference in Amboy, Illinois, where Joseph Smith Jr.s eldest son Joseph Smith III was ordained president of the church.  Joseph Luff and John Shippy were the first missionaries from this reorganized church to return to Toronto.  They baptized a number of new members and reorganized the  congregation, which purchased a building on the south side of Arthur (now Dundas) Street.  Within a few years, however, this branch also fell into disorganization and ceased to meet.[2]

The third (and current) organization of the congregation occured on September 17, 1891.[3]  

[1] Terryl L. Givens and Matthew J. Grow, Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism (Oxford: 2011) 83.
[2] History of the Toronto Branch, [1], unsigned manuscript dated November 1980, in the possession of the author.
[3] Ibid.

Sunday September 9 Service

Here's a preview of next Sunday's service. The theme is "All Are Worthy." Roger Dodson will be conducting the service and Gordon Hodgins will be giving the sermon. The scripture for our theme found in Mark 7:24–37 (which is Mark 7:22–36 in the Inspired Version of the Bible). Click here for additional readings and information on our theme. 

Remember that Sunday School is restarting after our summer break, so make sure you arrive by 10 am.  After the 11 am worship service, please stay with us for snacks and visiting.

"Tradition" (Homily from Sept. 2)

Here's the text of the homily I presented on Sunday. The service went well overall and the message seemed well received.  We had 25 people in attendance, which is pretty good for our congregation, especially during a holiday weekend in the summer.


You may be aware — or you may have guessed — I'm not personally a particularly traditional guy.  It's only because I'm traveling fairly light this trip and didn't bring a garment bag that I'm preaching today without suit and tie; you'll probably recall that I've had a tie fewer times than not.

I first grew my hair out 20 years ago when I went to graduate school.  It wasn't really the norm for men then and it still isn't.  My job has become non-traditional since 2007, when I ceased to go into work at a real office and began working from a “virtual office” — which has allowed me to travel frequently, always taking work with me everywhere I go. In some facets of my life, the lack is taken to places most people find extreme.  For example, although Mike and I very much enjoyed celebrating a Christmas meal with Chuck and some of you here last year, just as often when left to our own devices, we haven't celebrated the holiday at all.

But my lack of enthusiasm for some traditions is not, by any means, the whole picture.  In fact, my fondness for history, is connected with fond feelings that can include interest in and even nostalgia for all kinds of traditions — from old hymns to old stories to old rituals.

And it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that among the loves I treasure most, books rank very high.  My love of books extends back as far as I can remember.  Of course, books are primarily important because of their content.  But I've also loved them for more than their content.  I've loved to hold them.  I love for them to be beautiful.  I love to make them.  My love for them is at the root of why I went into publishing in my professional career.  And although I'm sure they are ever more wonderful, and although I'm sure I will eventually have a Kindle or some other kind of e-book reader, I have not been an early-adopter of this technology.  I'm not excited about the oft-predicted (and ever more likely) demise of print.  The printed book is one of those traditions that I find myself quite attached to.